Like any Arts & Crafts enthusiast, I like the Gustav and L. & J.G. Stickley classics. But ever since I started collecting the stuff 28 years ago, I’ve had a deep affection for pieces by the Charles P. Limbert Co. of Holland, Mich.
Like many of his contemporaries, Limbert made a lot of Stickley-esque pieces that were popular during the turn of the last century. But unlike his contemporaries, Limbert also had a line of “Dutch” Arts & Crafts furniture that was unlike anything on this continent.
Limbert’s Dutch pieces had cutouts, curves and angles where the Stickleys had mass, straight lines and 90° everything.
Fresh out of college in 1990, I bought two original Limbert pieces that I still use today – a large game table (which is where my beer is right now) and a gorgeous desk, which is where I design all my books.
Last weekend, my wife and I made a pilgrimage to Holland, Mich., to get away from our computers for a few days and soak up some of the Arts & Crafts heritage of the area. Of particular interest was finding the Limbert factory, or what was left of it. After some research, we learned the Holland factory was torn down in 1990 and replaced with a huge residential development.
At the Holland History Museum, we did find a few Limbert pieces, both on display and in use in the lobby. (Personal note: You get weird looks when you lie on your back in a lobby and start exclaiming “Oh yeah! Look at that!”)
If you would like to learn more about Limbert and his work, here are some great resources to check out.
- Michael Crow’s “Building Arts & Crafts Furniture.” Don’t be fooled by the generic title that was bestowed by a dumb committee. This is a book about Limbert furniture. And a good one.
- “Limbert Furniture” published by Turn of the Century Editions. This great book compiles a bunch of Limbert catalogs, which are a gold mine of visual inspiration.
- Here are plans for one of my Limbert Bookcases (now in my storefront).
- Plans for my favorite Limbert Tabouret.
- Plans for a Limbert Waste Paper Box. I made tons of these for family, friends and customers. I still have one in my office.
Even if you are tired of Arts & Crafts furniture, I urge you to let a little Limbert into your life. It has a little Charles Rennie Mackintosh in it. A dash of the Vienna Secession. And (as far as I can tell) not a lot of Dutch. (Limbert grew up in Akron, Ohio.)
— Christopher Schwarz
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